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Saturday, July 15, 2017

“Punk. You faggot. You ho.”

As part of a week's worth of increasingly vulgar, stylized trash talk to pump up pay-per-view revenue for their upcoming reality show boxing match, Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather, Jr. put on a show for 10,000 in a London arena Friday. This was the highlight:


And sure, enough, Mayweather's words- amplified around the world, pushed the slur to new highs in the weekly Twitter market report:












A Daily Beast writer,  Tim Teeman, wrote yesterday, 
Attacks in law, and attacks viewed by millions as part of a boxing promotion, do two things. They bring out lots of people who say how bad it is to say this kind of stuff which is all very nice, but they also make the saying and doing of bad things, like shouting “faggot” at people, and thinking that is OK, that much more standard. 
You might call it the genie-out-of-the-bottle principle.
And it is: every few days since January has come a new story of government legislative or administrative action against LGBT rights. Locally, a boisterous if tiny band of gay Trump supporters- all of their grandiose plans to force Charlotte Pride to give the float space in a parade with people Deplorable Pride's members despise (except as potential sex partners) having failed- has taken attacking other LGBT citizens in social media:
In practice, all Deplorable Pride has done in its bungled social media outreach (its Official Website, Official Twitter Feed, and Official Facebook page all got hacked, the former two serving for a time as a dating site for gay conservatives) is call people names: lazy, pathetic, snowflake, lefty loons, libtard. 
"Poor baby get his little feelings hurt? Lol. Loser." "And I will be praying for your ignorance." "Kasper, the unfriendly libtard blocked me...LOL Yep, I won." "He knows what it means to be an American. Maybe your traitor ass could learn a lesson from him." 
Talbert has railed against liberal "queens" (just what do you have to be proud of? Gay Pride did more damage to equality this year than any other group ever has! You lost all credibility. The world was watching), and "bitter jealous Republican queers", too (I thought liberals would be the only ones I would have to deal with. You really see the grandstanding, jealousy, and greed come out when you start dealing in the political world. But I have said one thing from the beginning. I promise to be 100% truthful and transparent. A man is only as good as his word. I assure you that I am a man of my word. My goal is to fight for the Conservative LGBT voice. I don't care who I have to fight to achieve it).
After a June interview with him, San Diego LGBT Pride wrote,
The group is led by Brian Talbert, who has used or promoted inflammatory language against Muslims, women, and even the LGBTQ community itself.
Teeman continues,
If this all sounds a little dramatic, and you’ve never been called a “faggot,” here’s a primer. 
You never know when it’s coming. You might be at school. You might be in a restroom. You might be going to lunch. You might be leaving a bar or club. You may be with friends. You may be on a bus or train. At night. During the day. But every time it scythes the air. And you think: Really? Now? You may not be out as gay, you may be coming out. You may not even be gay. 
But the threat is suddenly there. This isn’t “faggot” as gays reclaimed it, this is “faggot” as the bigots with their fists, guns, weapons, and whatever else they have to injure and degrade gay people intend it to be heard. As an attack on you as a man, their idea of what a man is, which isn’t gay. 
And, ironically as Mayweather said this as a prelude to beating another man up, it often comes with the threat of a fist or worse. “Faggot” can be the last thing you hear before you are injured or worse. 
Anti-gay bullying at school, anti-gay violence on the street, homophobic murders, homophobic laws, the idea of gay men as lesser men: They all have “faggot” like a maggot at their center. 
Hell, the word can even be carved into both your arms—“Die Fag” to be precise—by your attackers. Perhaps Mayweather thinks that sounds pretty cool. 
Mayweather’s “faggot” also emerged as part of a bizarrely, overly executed parade of anger and aggression between the two men. 
All week Mayweather and McGregor have been involved in a spectacularly debasing scramble to the bottom of the barrel when it comes to pre-bout baiting, with homophobia and racism being flung as carelessly as mud on a rainy day. 
For minorities who fear that both those ugly phenomena are now returning to the public and political arena in ever more alarming ways, here were two grown men willing to prove it in the name of publicity, and to line their wallets. 
One hopes the hatred they spout, and encourage among the public, is worth it. 
In the American arm of this pair’s publicity tour, McGregor had described the black boxers in Apollo Creed’s gym in Rocky III as “dancing monkeys.” 
Mayweather responded: “I don’t like the fact that he called blacks ‘monkeys.’ I think that’s totally disrespectful. Saying a lot of racist things today to black women, I have two black daughters and a black mother… He’s crossing the line, I can’t focus on that right now. I’m here to do a job and my job is to go out there and entertain but he’s out there losing a lot of fans.” 
McGregor then defended himself, “Let’s address the race,” he said. “A lot of media seem to be saying I’m against black people. That’s absolutely fucking ridiculous. Do they not know I’m half-black? Yeah. I’m half-black from the belly button down.” 
Way to go. Counter a racism charge with something even more racist.
Can’t they just punch the living hell out of each other, pick up their insanely large paychecks, and be done with it? 
McGregor then tried to save face at a subsequent interview. “That doesn’t really sit well with me,” he said of the charge of racism. “I’m very multi-cultured, and I don’t have any ill-feelings towards anybody. I don’t even see color. I just wanted to say something and have a little bit of fun with it. I just wanted to play with it and address it in my own little way. It’s stupid and ridiculous. Basically that’s what I was getting at.”
Will Mayweather offer any kind of apology or mea culpa for “faggot”? Doubtful. His father, Floyd Mayweather Sr. loves the word “faggot.” He once called Manny Pacquiao “one of the biggest faggots on the planet.” 
Amir Khan, he told an interviewer, was a “fag ass and sissy,” who didn’t deserve to benefit from a payday following a fight with his son because “he’s a fag.” 
Pacquiao himself, not to be outdone by Mayweather Sr., called gay people “worse than animals.” He is now a senator in the Philippines. 
Mayweather Jr.’s words today sound ugly because in 2017, “faggot”—said with the despicable venom Mayweather said it with—we thought was as verboten on our TV screens as the N-word rightly is. 
Apparently not. 
Mainstream boxing has a long and inglorious relationship with not just the F-word but homosexuality in general. 
The world welter- and middleweight champion Emile Griffith accidentally killed an opponent, Benny Paret, in 1962 during a bout—this after Paret had incensed him at the weigh-in by calling him a “maricón,” Spanish slang for “faggot.” 
Lennox Lewis denied he was gay, despite rumors to the contrary, claiming he was a “woman’s man” in a TV confrontation with Hasim Rahman in 2001. 
In 2015, heavyweight world champion Tyson Fury’s homophobia came accompanied by Bible verses, and instructions to “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” 
One of the most astonishing tirades—for its mixing of violence, race, sex, power, homophobia, and lyrical poetry—was Mike Tyson’s against a reporter, who in 2002 said Tyson should be in a straitjacket. 
“I’ll put your mother in a straitjacket, you punk-ass white boy. Come here and tell me that, and I’ll fuck you in your ass, you punk white boy, you faggot... I’ll eat your asshole alive, you bitch... You scared, coward, you’re not man enough to fuck with me, you can’t last two minutes in my world, bitch. Look at you, scared now, you ho. Scared like a little white pussy, scared of the real man. I’ll fuck you till you love me, faggot.” 
There is, you might say, quite a lot going on there—and all of the toxic masculinity that boxing freely encourages is wrapped up in it. 
Tyson, like Mayweather Jr., has a history of domestic violence. In boxing, it seems, masculinity—of the most hyper-aggressive kind—must be averred at all times out of the ring as well as in it. 
And yet boxing has its own strange camp to it. It is not enough for Mayweather and McGregor to snarl at each other in tight briefs at a weigh-in, their groin bulges nearly touching, flexing, and posing. 
The only thing to do in such an overtly homoerotic situation to assert your rampant heterosexuality is to scream that the other guy’s a faggot. Or hit him. Or turn away and flex. 
Or what? You might just do the most natural thing in the surreal circumstance and kiss him, or grab a handful. Or enquire how he got his amazing delts. 
Instead, Mayweather and McGregor, these big, butch men, must be mean to each other for months in confected theatrical situations before actually hitting one another. Even the most dedicated Mean Girl would not have the energy for this.  
Within this demented arena of aggression and dollars, Mayweather and McGregor have shown themselves this week to be the worst kind of men, the most pathetic, the least manly, the least admirable, and the worst possible examples to young people. 
For all their muscles and menace, their insults based on skin color and sexuality show us how weak they are. 
Well, if it pays their bills and makes them feel badass—fine. But they should know that they are weaker than any gay man or black person they have invoked and insulted. 
We have had real fists and real insults thrown and jabbed in our faces, and we know that while racists and homophobes are vile and sometimes terrifying they are also less than nothing. We know their weakness as soon as we hear them say “faggot.” 
There is also the example of Orlando Cruz, the first professional boxer to come out as gay in 2012, who told Der Spiegel of what he would he would say to an opponent who called him the F-word: “What? You call me a faggot? Okay, if you like. But you’d better watch out, because I’m the faggot who’s going to kick your ass.” 
You might argue that answering violence with violence is never the answer—though you might also argue that the moronic homophobes in boxing, so long left to spew their prejudice with impunity, really have it coming.
I still remember being called that in school, even before I had it figured out myself. A number of the people who indulged themselves call me friend to this day. They forgot it once I left town. And to be fair, there is no need to remember. They hit their target.

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